The Unexplored Summon Blood Sign:Volume5 Chapter4
Stage 04: The Calamity was Named, the Secret War
“Why don’t I kill you, brother?”
“Do you really not understand why?”
(Stage 04 Open 11/12 20:10 “War of the White Apocalypse”)
The Calamity was Named, the Secret War
He never stood a chance.
An explosion struck Kyousuke before he could get in any kind of attack, so he should not have been able to even stand up. This went beyond issues of willpower and guts; the bones themselves were broken in multiple places. He had no guarantee his organs were unharmed and he was honestly lucky to have only taken this much damage after being caught in the pure white light brought by the Queen.
So it was likely nothing he had done that had kept him from dying in that first hit.
A voice cut in from the side.
A woman with a long black ponytail wore a lab coat over a dark blue tight suit.
She was Madam Professor Shigara Masami.
No, it was not just her.
He heard several muffled breaths. It was the guards in charge of security at the Queen’s Miniature Garden. Those unidentifiable summoners wore gas masks that hid their faces, explosion-resistant jackets that covered their bodies, and several devices that resembled octopus tentacle that attached to their waists.
But they lacked vessels.
Their firearms were worthless against the White Queen. And even if they were perfectly supplied with vessels, Incense Grenades, and Blood-Signs, how could they stand up to the White Queen, that strongest of the strongest who signaled the end of the match as soon as she was summoned!?
In his T-shirt and shorts, Kyousuke clenched his teeth against the pain of his broken bones and forced out his voice.
“This is my responsibility. It’s all my fault, so stop…!!”
“Not a chance.”
He was cut off by a masked man who did not turn around.
That faceless man enjoyed baking cakes and had occasionally left homemade sweets in the refrigerator for the 15 children.
“We were wrong to force this onto a single child all this time. So give us a chance to make up for it.”
No, that was not his point.
Kyousuke wanted to shout back, but the intense pain sealed his mouth.
Shigara Masami picked up his small battered body.
“Madam, get him to the emergency elevator evacuation route. I can’t say how long the backup power will last.”
“Please… If we survive this, let’s go get a drink together and discuss these memories.”
“Stop that. My tendency to fall for women has caused me way too much pain in the past.”
They all began to move.
The gas mask troops would hold off the White Queen even one second longer if it would protect the small life in Shigara Masami’s arms.
Everything was destroyed.
What Kyousuke had truly wanted to protect was smashed beyond recognition.
An insane voice slammed into his body.
But who was it that had driven her insane?
Who was at fault for not stopping it before this happened?
That sturdy underground space shook like a candy box in a storm. Cracks ran through it and pursued Shigara Masami as she fled. The Great Ceiling crumbled and the walls collapsed. The entire space bared its fangs and swung its claws like a living creature.
“Ee hee hee. Ah ha ha ha ha.”
“She’s fast! I knew the difference in power was too great, but not this much!!”
Shigara Masami clenched her teeth.
The emergency elevator was still a long way away.
She removed the ID card from her lab coat chest and had helpless Kyousuke hold it. Then she looked around and stopped her eyes on a certain spot. She caught a glimpse of white and pink.
“You there! Detta-chan!”
“Take care of Kyousuke-kun. You can use the elevator with this card. You know where that is, right? Go!!”
A frightening tremor reached them from behind.
After leaving unmoving Kyousuke with Biondetta, Shigara Masami turned around with her lab coat fluttering behind her.
By leaving her ID card with the children, she was abandoning her own opportunity to open the elevator door.
In his T-shirt and shorts, Kyousuke desperately tried to move his broken arms to grab at the back of her lab coat.
But he did not accomplish anything.
Still in Biondetta’s arms, he alone was taken to safety once more.
Meanwhile, he heard shaking all around him.
Shigara Masami and the adults Kyousuke had never met would be caught in that and they would be fighting and falling. And it was all to protect this small life, as if to say it was irrelevant that he did not actually know them.
“It’ll be okay,” said the young demon while her short skirt fluttered. “Your big sister will protect you. So it’ll be okay, Kyousuke!!”
He did not know how to respond.
He knew he had to shout something, but the words caught in his throat and nothing came out.
With nowhere to go, the torrent of emotions escaped his eyes instead of his mouth.
Oh, he realized.
Was he crying?
Was he pathetically shedding tears?
Because he had not noticed the distortion to the Queen’s Miniature Garden? Because the White Queen had broken through her bonds? Because the people he had wanted to protect were vanishing into the white light and the rubble?
He was losing everything.
Because he had lost any path except for opposing “her”?
The two of them finally arrived at the emergency elevator. There were several elevators in a row, but the single ID card could only open one of them.
But that was as far as they got.
However, not because of the White Queen.
A low, low voice stopped them.
It was the top of the rotting ranking board. It was the summoner with messy blond hair and brown skin who undeniably had the most skill of the 15.
It was Alberto S. Divinesmith the Hatter.
That devil sneered with a vessel girl bound by an iron maiden device.
“Let’s have some fun here. Once the protective circle is set up, your broken arms and legs won’t matter. Yeah, for as long as the Summoning Ceremony battle lasts.”
“Do you not know what’s happening right now!?”
“That doesn’t matter.”
A single silver coin danced between Alberto’s fingers. More and more and more identical coins stacked on top of it to create a heavy Blood-Sign made of metal.
“As long as you’ll pour all your strength into this moment, anything’s fine. Yes, yes. It’s been like that ever since the Mock Battlefield was taken from me. But now I’m finally living in a world of color again.”
The Hatter held a practice Blood-Sign in addition to the silver one. But he was not going to fight with two. He tossed the practice stick over to set the stage.
But it was not Kyousuke who caught it.
Biondetta stuck her hand out and caught it instead.
“…Go on ahead, Kyousuke.”
The ID card from Shigara Masami was an unreliable thread, but Biondetta also let go of it. After the emergency elevator door opened, she shoved the barely moving boy inside and then lightly grabbed her waitress miniskirt.
A metal sphere one size smaller than a baseball fell from between her legs.
“This is a farewell gift.”
“Wait, Biondetta! You-…”
“If he gets serious, the entire elevator shaft will be destroyed. Someone has to hold him off.”
He was not given a chance to reply.
Biondetta Shiroyama took a step back from the elevator that would allow her to escape. She returned to hell, but she gave him an oddly gentle smile while still holding the bottom of her short waitress skirt.
“It’ll be okay. I’m your big sister, so I’ll protect you.”
The iron door closed from both sides.
The thin lifeline made of metal rapidly ascended with only the greatest sinner of all onboard.
“…I’m surprised,” said the Mad Hatter in the depths of hell. “You were just as focused on holing up in your room and tricking the Queen as any of us. So why are you still so fixated on that family crap? Maybe the Fifteen Siblings Project did succeed in some way.”
“No.” Biondetta shook her head at the brown-skinned boy’s words while holding the practice Blood-Sign so tightly it creaked. “I’m just about at my limit. I’ve been assisting other people with their revenge while that boy wasn’t looking. If I had to look at Kyousuke’s face any longer, I would probably throttle him out of pure hatred.”
“You don’t hate Kyousuke. I can tell. …After all, it was I, Biondetta Shiroyama, who received the Queen’s hatred.”
Through Shiroyama Kyousuke’s Sewn Realm Summoning and the March Hare derived from it, everyone had pretended to be Kyousuke to control the White Queen.
But in the end, it had not fulfilled them. Even when they could perfectly rule her and completely control her, the White Queen was not looking at them. They had only been watching her whisper words of love for a fictional Shiroyama Kyousuke and unconditionally trust him. And that love and trust was much, much deeper than for any family or sibling. After watching her, they were convinced that they could search all across the world and never find someone they could rely on so comfortably.
Biondetta did not know what the grownups had thought.
But the 14 children besides Kyousuke had received something other than love.
In Biondetta’s case, that was the Queen’s hatred.
And in Alberto’s case…
“The Queen’s ferocity.”
The hatter directly answered in a clear voice.
It was as if the fog of madness had cleared from his mind for a brief moment.
“I just wanted to save the vessels. I wanted to do something about those 3 who were passed around for contract after contract until their bodies were worn down both inside and out. So I thought I could tear down the Mock Battlefield by going along with Akura’s plan and taking the strongest spot for myself. I didn’t expect for Kyousuke to take the White Queen for himself, but anything was fine as long as those vessels wouldn’t be worn down any longer.”
“That doesn’t make sense. You hated us for taking the Mock Battlefield from you, didn’t you?”
“It was no use. Do you know what happened to the vessels after those battles were taken from them and they weren’t needed to hold Materials inside themselves? You wouldn’t. Of course you wouldn’t. You were all so fixated on the Queen that you wouldn’t know where the vessels were after that.”
No vessel was needed to permanently summon the White Queen.
There had been no need to summon any of the inferior Materials.
So those girls had been abandoned with almost innocent cruelty.
And as he watched the vessels rotting away with no place left for them…something had broken inside the Hatter.
“We can only live alongside monsters.”
The blond madman smiled.
No, it was not actually the Hatter who was mad. It was the tea party being held around him.
“So let’s enjoy this to the very end. Because this is how we live. I received the Queen’s ferocity! This charisma takes joy in battle and is moved to emotion by battle!! Now, it might be only a brief dream, but I will give you vessels the power you need to take the next step forward!!”
Someone stood next to Waitress Biondetta.
It was a woman with a silver bob cut. Her entire body was tightly bound by belt-like restraints. A ring of metal surrounded her head along the forehead line and it had plugs along the inside, making it a modern version of the crown of thorns. This was another of the vessels, but since the 3 vessels existed as a category, they had to have had as close a relationship as the 15 did.
And yet they chose to oppose each other.
Even if it was for a second or a mere moment, they wanted to immerse themselves in an all-out battle that tore at their souls.
“I received the Queen’s hatred.”
There was a quiet tearing sound.
To bind a contract with the vessel, Biondetta had bit into the side of her lip with her canine tooth and allowed a bead of blood to appear. She felt like that rusty flavor definitively remade who she was.
Whether she lived or died, she was a big sister no longer.
When they next met, she would have become someone else entirely.
Nevertheless, Biondetta Shiroyama shook off that thought and wiped the blood from her lip. She pressed her red-dyed fingertip toward the vessel’s mouth to bind them together.
She gave up on herself as a person.
A personality had been awkwardly growing in the depths of her mind, but now she heard it burning away.
And the two of them spoke in unison as summoners, the devices meant to surpass the gods.
“Now, time for the final battle!!”
“Now, time for the final battle!!”
A woman with a long ponytail wore a lab coat over her dark blue tight suit.
Shigara Masami faced a monster in the pile of rubble that had no more walls or Great Ceiling.
Unexplored-class. Sound Range: None. Cost: 21.
The “White” Queen who Wields the Sword of Unsullied Truth (iu – nu – fb – a – wuh – ei –kx – eu – pl – vjz).
An incarnation of benevolence, a symbol of sanctity, and a personification of radiance.
She knew the identity and true nature of what she faced, but the charisma was so overwhelming that she might have thrown out every last assumption and bowed down on the spot if she let her guard down even slightly.
“…Oh? You aren’t going to run for your pathetic little life?”
“And have you finally decided to speak with people other than Kyousuke-kun?”
The White Queen purely tilted her head at that question.
Had killing so many of her own caused some kind of change?
“You were always a being that would harm mankind. No matter how you might feel, that will never change. You might not mean any harm. There is nothing at fault in a perfect being like you and the creatures we call humans might just be too weak in comparison. But no matter how misguided it might be, you will bring us harm and not benefit.”
Shigara Masami did not care and spoke as if singing to herself.
She did not give in and took a step forward.
“When I hoped to save you or that someone would save you, I had given up somewhere in my heart. I was free to dream because I never thought any of it was realistic. That was all I thought it was.”
She stepped toward the White Queen.
Toward that peak of the peak.
“And that’s why I was dazzled when I saw Kyousuke-kun. I started thinking ‘what if’ or ‘could it be’. That dream was so heavy I gave up on it, but I tried to force it onto those small shoulders.”
She spoke to her.
She blocked her way.
“Queen, let’s end this. The dream I held in Kyousuke-kun and the hope you held in him will bring him far too much suffering. It may have been of a different type, but both of us forced our mistakes onto him, so at least allow me to clean up after myself.”
Shigara Masami reached a slender hand back and stuck it into her large ponytail. And then she pulled something out.
It was a small glass bottle that sealed a bright blue sticky fluid inside.
She threw it to her feet where it shattered and the slime surrounded Shigara Masami. Its rotation picked up speed until it sharpened into something like an upside-down tornado. In the blink of an eye, it transformed into a single long stick.
It was a Blood-Sign.
The White Queen did not laugh when she saw it.
“Are you trying to come between my brother and me with that?”
“I am Freedom Award 3000, World Complete.”
Shigara Masami’s eyes silently narrowed.
She released into the world a name entirely different from the kind and harmless one of Government’s Madam Professor.
“Government, Illegal, and Freedom. While passing between all three major powers, I ended up completing every last one of the 1000 tasks they each gave me. At the very least, I should hold your interest more than bullying some fleeing children.”
Shiroyama Kyousuke had been mistaken.
The truly powerful was not Humanism, Open Bluff, and Perfect Equilibrium who reigned on the underside of the world. The underside of the underside was the topside. A single woman had reached greater heights than anyone, but she remained alongside her fellow man more than anyone while adding a hint of humanity into the purely coldhearted systems she so hated.
She had once said that the Miniature Garden was headed in a wicked direction, but that resolving it by force would break the container and allow the wickedness to spill out. That also meant that she alone could have destroyed that container and brought ruin to the entire Miniature Garden, including the 15 geniuses.
She heard a quiet animal cry.
Was it a squirrel or a ferret? The small animal poked its head out from the neck of her lab coat. That was the animal vessel she was contracted with. This was an extension of the idea that deer or bears could be made divine and used as messengers of a god. And its front paws held an Incense Grenade like it was a walnut.
She was the strongest of the human side.
So even if she had her pride, she also understood.
(I know I can’t win…)
“Now, it’s time for a battle between two who have mastered their fields, Your Majesty.”
“Tsk, tsk, tsk.”
But the White Queen wagged her index finger.
She went out of her way to interact with this puny human. She showed her respect for this summoner who had desperately gathered so many Awards, but she also immediately corrected the woman.
“You still don’t have ‘Loved by the White’ or ‘White Slayer’.”
A hopeless tremor further destroyed the Queen’s Miniature Garden.
In his T-shirt and shorts, Kyousuke rode the emergency escape elevator all on his own.
That last thread of hope made of modern machinery swiftly pulled the survivor up from that hell 500 meters underground.
(If I can get to the top…)
He kept his woozy mind active and desperately thought about what he could do, whether it was the best, second best, or whatever other option.
(If I can get to the surface, I’ll find the team meant to kill the Queen. With their help, I might be able to pull the others up from underground!)
But that did not last forever.
With a loud clunk like a gear jamming, the elevator came to a grinding halt. His bones were already broken, but he bounced up from the floor, fell back down, and was thrown into a world of pain.
He did not have time to writhe around.
Something like white claws tore into the rectangular box like the thick blade of a can opener digging into a metal lid.
What were those?
They were white. So were they a part of the Queen? Had her clothing or something else transformed into them???
It was all for naught if he was caught here.
The elevator was dangling in midair and it had probably risen 200 meters.
Biondetta, Alberto, and other survivors had to still be down there. It was unclear how much accurate information had gotten out or how far it had spread, but it had to mean a lot that all of this had been caused by Shiroyama Kyousuke himself.
Unable to even stand up, he crawled over to the elevator panel. He grabbed at the metal fragment torn by the White Queen’s claws and he turned the screws to pry it open.
All the while, an ominous creaking surrounded him.
It should not have taken her even a second to crush the entire elevator.
A voice called for him from the depths of hell.
It was probably a lot harder to extract him from the box without crushing him.
But that hesitation opened the next path forward.
If dying would have brought it all to an end, he would have torn his own heart out right that instant. But this was not so kind. Committing suicide now would only be a way of running from his responsibility.
(There are 4 emergency escape elevators. The control panels are connected through the internal network, so this will work!)
Kyousuke grabbed the round metal sphere that Biondetta had given him. He pulled out the pin with his mouth and tossed it into a gap in the jagged torn wall.
He doubted it was an Incense Grenade.
Incense Grenades were fine-tuned for each individual summoner, so Biondetta giving Kyousuke hers would have accomplished nothing. That meant it was disguised as an Incense Grenade while containing normal explosives. It was likely meant to blow up another summoner while pretending to start a Summoning Ceremony battle. It was a cruel trick for use against her siblings.
At any rate, he let it detonate.
While fully contained in the gap, the grenade did not scatter an explosive blast and shrapnel. Instead, it blew open the wall. And with an ear-splitting roar, the elevator itself tilted diagonally.
Kyousuke rolled along the floor.
And he did not hesitate to jump right toward the large hole in the wall.
The countless claws holding the elevator danced out toward him, but they just barely missed.
He flung himself into the empty air and landed on the roof of another elevator ascending alongside the first.
He had used the panel to send a request to the connected elevator.
When he looked back, he saw the previous elevator was wrapped in what looked like white cloth. It was like a strange cocoon. And that cloth rising from the dark depths of the earth mercilessly crushed the metal box it no longer needed.
Kyousuke gasped for breath and lay on the elevator roof while desperately trying to keep his thoughts positive. If he did not, he would have broken right then and there.
(Up…to the surface…)
That was his one hope.
It was the final chance to save everyone still trapped 500 meters underground.
(I need to get the details to the team up there… With their help…)
And the elevator arrived at the surface.
He removed a roof panel, rolled inside the elevator, and dragged his broken bones along to desperately arrive outside. Even in the tropical location, the air was chilly.
Something was not right.
He saw no hope.
He found the stench of something burning and voices from all around. When he focused on it, the unclear mass of noise sounded a lot like shouts of anger and fear.
Was something happening here too?
He dragged his aching body and used his dried throat to force out a voice.
“Someone please come here!! The Miniature Garden…everyone is down in the Miniature Garden…!!”
No one responded.
Kyousuke crawled along the dirty ground like a caterpillar and tried to find out what was happening. He moved to the hill Biondetta had once shown him.
He had no idea how many times he nearly passed out before arriving at that point giving him a view of the wandering land.
His T-shirt and shorts were filthy by the time he saw it.
The trees of the tropical forest had been felled or burned away.
And the entire land was covered in a horrifying swarm of Materials.
Due to the tides and the accumulation of sand, the area around the Miniature Garden was cut off by seawater, making it something of a large island.
And that entire island had become hell on earth.
He seriously doubted these were vessels being controlled by summoners.
For one thing, there was no Artificial Sacred Ground in effect.
And yet hundreds, if not thousands…no, even more monsters were enveloping the lower world. They might be a giant collection of gears, countless wolves connected by the single shadow they shared, an endlessly swollen eyeball, or a suit of armor with nothing inside.
And those Regulation-classes were joined by a group of what were clearly the gods of legend as they spread destruction endlessly. Beams of light surged out and explosions erupted. The forest was carved away, the distant bridge was broken at its relay points, and large pillars of water rose from the ocean. Were those caused by submarines exploding underwater?
The occasional Incense Grenade was thrown and Artificial Sacred Grounds opened here and there, but they were tiny. They were miniscule. In the face of the fury covering the entire land rising from the ocean, they looked like no more than small bubbles doomed to pop.
That was the source of the angry and fearful shouting.
The Cost and Sound Range were irrelevant. They could not even set up a one-on-one battle. When surrounded by Materials of multiple Sound Ranges and Costs, the proper summoners and vessels could not even hope to fight. They had already forgotten to function as a group, so they were running around like a swarm of bees was after them.
They tried to escape the hellish battlefield, but they could not.
The bridge had fallen and the submarines had exploded and sunk.
(Wait. The ocean…?)
Kyousuke moved his muddy face to check on that again.
Yes, the ocean.
The Materials were pushing in from the beach like white waves. Their numbers knew no bounds, so it looked like they were crawling endlessly from the seawater.
He realized it. He realized the truth.
The Sewn Realm Summoning he had used to summon the White Queen was based on the fairy’s spring seen in fairy tales and children’s books. That meant water defined the line dividing this world from the other.
Was that why?
As the Queen lost control and her power surged out, the entire surrounding ocean had become a spring that summoned “fairies”. The surface team had suddenly been surrounded by Materials from the ocean all around them, so they had been unable to continue on or fall back. Destruction had been their only option.
It had happened again.
Yet again, Shiroyama Kyousuke had pulled the trigger on all these lost lives.
He could not save everyone still underground.
He had even needlessly gotten the people on the surface involved.
The White Queen was still on a rampage and no one could hope to stop her.
Shiroyama Kyousuke could protect no one.
He could protect nothing.
“Dammit! Is this where you were!?”
He heard a rustling in the underbrush and a man appeared with wounds all over his body.
It was the large blond man who had once overlooked Kyousuke and Biondetta’s outing.
“I saw the elevator had run, but was it just you? Were you the only one that got out!?”
The “only” one.
Even after all this, it was “only” him.
He thought the man was going to kill him.
With all his broken bones, Kyousuke started thinking that was unavoidable.
After all, there was no hope left. Kyousuke was worthless. He had pulled a fatal trigger on the world, sacrificed so much, and lost the possibility of saving anyone at all. After all this, there was nothing he could do. If he was of no use to them, they should at least use him as a target for their hatred and execute him. He had done enough to deserve that.
But then the man spoke.
“Thank goodness…!! Damn, finally some good news!!”
The man picked him up.
He had lost track of how many times it was now.
Everyone who had carried him like this had disappeared.
“The transport helicopters are gathered on the eastern plain. That’s our last escape route. Not only are you from the 15, but you were the one from the special Queen killing team. You’ll get the VIP treatment, so they’re sure to give you a spot.”
“Sorry, but you can complain later.”
An unbelievable tremor reached them.
The entire battlefield sticking up from the surrounding ocean like an island had split like a cookie.
Pure white light welled up from directly below. And that antlion pit swallowed up everything. The ground crumbled and collapsed in a mortar shape, but the man desperately ran to the eastern plain with Kyousuke in his arms.
The ground could crumble away below his feet and drag them into that underground world at any second.
Nevertheless, a few people in military uniforms passed them going the other way.
Those people were turning their backs on the escape route and running to the core of the fighting in the center of the mortar.
They were recklessly fighting the White Queen.
The blond man spoke to them as they passed by.
“Sorry, I promise I’ll catch up with you!!”
“Don’t worry about it. Just one of the children? You did well to make it this far. Leave the rest to us and get on that rescue chopper!!”
They did not stand a chance.
Their odds were suspect even at the best of times, but now that they were no longer functioning as a group, they would end up facing the White Queen as individuals, ensuring an immediate defeat.
Several white beams scorched the air as if passing by Kyousuke and the man as they kept their backs to the center of the blast.
Each of those beams must have been taking an unbelievable number of lives.
The earth and even the clouds in the sky were split as the divinely bright light poured down. Something like white feathers began covering the entire area like snow that dyed everything white.
The world was changing. It was being recolored.
It was becoming pure white.
All the while, the large bond man did not stop running.
But not to save himself. He had told the other soldiers he would catch up to them. So once he left Kyousuke with the helicopter, he would turn right back toward that deadly battlefield.
“You worked hard. That White Queen is enough to make a group of grown men shake in their boots, but you kept challenging her until your tiny body was this beaten up. So, boy, that effort gives you that much more of a right to seek happiness. If it didn’t, this world wouldn’t be worth fighting for!”
Kyousuke wanted to snap back on reflex and tell the man he was wrong.
But the words would not come out.
There was an open clearing within the felled and burnt tropical forest. A group of helicopters were already preparing to take off.
The blond man shouted over the rotor wind while holding Kyousuke.
One of the helicopters had already taken off and it was mercilessly shot down by one of the Queen’s beams of light as it gained altitude.
“From how you’re dressed, I’m guessing you’re a Government research group. Please, take this kid with you! If I said I know Humanism, would that be enough to warrant a favor!!”
“We’re already over our 20 person capacity. Can’t you wait for the next flight!?”
“You know damn well there won’t be a next flight.” The large man was soaked with sweat. “I’m not talking about me. I left my Government family, so I’m not selfish enough to think you’ll take me in now. But that has nothing to do with this kid! So please!! Can’t you do something!?”
Someone in the helicopter clicked their tongue.
And everyone inside had the same opinion.
“If you’re getting on, then hurry it up! Hurry!!”
The blond man very carefully handed over Kyousuke whose bones were broken.
He did not try to board the helicopter himself.
And the developers onboard looked shocked.
“What about you!?”
“Didn’t I tell you? Does the name Claude Magentarain mean anything to you? I’m an outsider that left Government and joined Freedom. With all this chaos, there’s got to be a vessel that lost their summoner wandering around somewhere. I’ll find one, bind a contract, and then go for the White Queen. So don’t worry about it. You all get out of here!!”
It was true they did not have time to wait around.
Even if they escaped into the air, carelessly gaining too much altitude would get them pierced by the Queen’s beams of light.
And the helicopter took off, leaving Kyousuke’s savior on the ground.
The man named Claude narrowed his eyes and watched it leave.
And then a few of the developers next to Kyousuke jumped down from the ascending helicopter.
Claude was as surprised as anyone.
He was not the only fool who would waste his own chance to board the ark.
“What are you doing!?”
“We said we were over the 20 person capacity, didn’t we? It would probably just crash like that, so that kid has more of a chance of surviving if we lighten the load.”
One of the men in lab coats was far too skinny to fight, but he still forced a smile.
In fact, all of them were afraid.
But they had still come.
“Also, you’re not an outsider any longer.”
The lab coat man stuck a hand in his pocket, pulled out a handgun, and pressed the grip into Claude’s hand.
Claude was taken aback, but then he smiled and accepted the gun.
“So where should we start, summoner!? We only do logistical support, so tell us what we can do!!”
“First, gather any isolated vessels who have lost their partner. If we can join together everyone without a partner, we can reassemble a fighting force. Let’s show her humanity’s strength! If we reform a proper group, we can still fight!!”
That was when they heard static.
A transmission reached their radios.
“Attention, everyone! We have contacted Humanism, Open Bluff, and Perfect Equilibrium!! On their instructions, we will begin a simultaneous saturation attack using the Unexplored-class!! This is our first and last chance to push back the White Queen. Everyone who can participate is to gather at the following location!!!!!”
“Sounds like every last one of us is a damn fool…”
They were watching the end of the world, but oddly enough, they smiled.
“The leaders of the three major powers are the ultimate VIPs, so they could have used their authority to get on those helicopters.”
“If they were the type to do that, they wouldn’t have ended up at the top.”
True enough, thought Claude.
It all looked like hell on earth, but that was not all it was.
The faintest heat seemed to have great meaning specifically because they were in hell.
They ran through the burning forest to reach the source of the pure white light.
There was only one thing on their minds: They would show the Queen what human strength was.
“What? You didn’t run off?” asked Humanism.
The gothic lolita kimono girl stood in the burning world.
She was answered by Open Bluff, the head of Illegal.
“I could ask you the same thing. You can only throw out the ideal and choose what is right, so I thought you would’ve been the first one out of here.”
At this point, the tense atmosphere between the three major powers had vanished.
Did they understand that those matters were of no importance here?
“I do not know what the ideal is.”
Their lives would end in just a few minutes.
Whether the war was won or lost, there was no saving the summoners on the front line. The White Queen was not an opponent they could hope to defeat unscathed.
“But I gave a lot of thought to what was the most right and what would be the most beneficial.”
“All we did was push back at each other, so perhaps the world would be better off with the lifestyle of that boy who tried to have everyone get along despite knowing how reckless that was. Fighting to leave that seed behind might not be a bad idea.”
“You moron. That’s what we call a dream. And that’s a privilege only afforded to people.”
Humanism gave him a blank look, but Open Bluff did not care and continued.
“Hey, while I’m at it, could you teach me one thing at the very end here?”
“Teach you what? The pure justice that Illegal hates so much?”
He took a long stick from a subordinate – it was the basic kind of sacred tree Blood-Sign that Humanism seemed to like – and he announced his conviction.
“For the first time in my life, I feel like using my own hands to fight for this thing we call the world. So teach this Award 0 how to fight using the Summoning Ceremony.”
“Heh heh. Ah hah hah hah! So we have a complete beginner on our hands here, do we!?”
For a brief moment, the two of them laughed like old friends.
But they were rudely interrupted by Perfect Equilibrium, the head of Freedom and the resident of the world of sleep. Or she should have been. But now she was shockingly wide awake.
“So how many people do you think we can gather? We seem to have lost all contact with that Award 3000 Madam.”
“…Well, we don’t stand a chance either way.” Humanism honestly admitted that, but she still coldly calculated out the numbers. “Let’s ignore what group anyone belongs to. The summoners and vessels are scattered, so it would be more efficient to shuffle them all up between the major powers and rebind the contracts.”
“Anything’s fine if it will end this racket and let me get back to sleep.”
They heard footsteps behind them.
The vessels who followed those summoners also seemed to be ready.
Humanism smiled fiercely as she adjusted her grip on the most basic practice Blood-Sign.
“Then let’s show that White Queen just what a leader is and just how stubborn we can be!!”
The transport helicopter carried injured Kyousuke through the sky.
The battlefield below them was not just burning; it was glowing like lava. The earth itself had crumbled like a cookie and pure white light surged out from the cracks.
The sporadic fighting had ended and the remaining fighting force seemed to be regrouping.
The clash would begin before long.
Hundreds if not thousands of Unexplored-classes would be forced out and used as a simultaneous saturation attack to push back the White Queen.
This showdown would cost many lives and it would make the White Queen the one and only bad guy.
What was right and what was wrong?
Kyousuke’s woozy mind could not find the answer.
But there was one thing he knew.
This was not the end of the White Queen.
This half-measure would never settle things.
The world shook violently.
And as Kyousuke looked down at the battlefield from the open cargo door, he recalled Lewis Carroll’s fairy tale. He remembered the story he had told the White Queen.
Lewis Carroll had boldly included nonsense, absurdities, contradictions, and paradoxes, but there was apparently one rule or pattern that only he could understand. In that story with no standard structure at all, there were a few similar incidents throughout.
One of those was the eternal girl changing size. In one case, she had grown to giant size.
A sound like straining muscles and scraping bones continued on and on without end. More than one of this girl could exist at once, so it may have been simple for her to grow or shrink her body.
Just the hand grabbing at the earth was several dozen meters long.
As she stood up, she rivalled a small mountain in size.
And even then, she was only looking to Kyousuke. It was obvious what would happen when she spotted him escaping on the transport helicopter.
With a roar and while crushing everything on the ground, that giant form ran.
The transport helicopter had been keeping its altitude low to avoid being pierced by the Queen’s beams of light, so they could not ascend quickly enough now. The Queen would reach out her hand and crush them in her fist.
Kyousuke’s pulse pounded in his chest as a developer in a lab coat held him.
He could not allow those others to be caught in this too.
It was too late for everything, but what if he had the chance to save at least one person?
He could fight. He could face this without breaking.
In his T-shirt and shorts, Kyousuke forcibly stretched out his broken arm and grabbed one of the retrieved objects. It was a Blood-Sign that likely belonged to a dead summoner.
And he shook everything off as he stood on his own two feet once more.
He had no vessel and he had no Incense Grenade. He could not use the Summoning Ceremony and he could not have defeated the White Queen even if he could.
He understood all that.
He ran and he jumped.
He leaped from the transport helicopter’s cargo door and toward the giant White Queen.
He held the Blood-Sign like it was a spear.
There was no way he could even scratch her.
But that was not his aim.
The helicopter was being targeted because he was on board. So if he jumped toward the White Queen, he could save the helicopter. Shigara Masami, Biondetta, Claude, and all the others. So many people had kept him alive this long, but he could not stand it any longer even if it meant wasting all their efforts.
He wanted to take part in this showdown as much as possible.
The Blood-Sign was deflected by the Queen’s nose and the boy flew through the air again.
The White Queen caught Shiroyama Kyousuke in her palms like something truly precious and she held him to the center of her chest.
She held him truly deeply against her chest.
For a brief moment, she shut her eyes and savored that warmth.
Her insane mind understood that would never again be directed her way.
But even so…
“Why don’t you kill me?”
The boy was also enveloped by so much warmth he thought he would drown, but he asked a clear question.
He looked up at the giant face with a mixture of love and hatred in his eyes.
“After everything you did!! After opposing everyone like that!! And after taking so many other lives, why would you spare only me!? Do you want me to suffer that badly!?”
“You don’t understand, brother?”
The White Queen gently smiled.
“Why don’t I kill you, brother? Do you really not understand why?”
“…How could I understand?”
“No matter how great a tragedy it was and no matter how dreadful the truth was, I had to have been able to save you there. But you let go of that possibility yourself! You turned your back on what was right and reached for that empty and false love!! I myself, Shiroyama Kyousuke, you should have thrown it all away. And as a result, so many lives have been needlessly lost! How could anyone ever forgive something like this!!!???”
“There are some things,” the White Queen did not take a step back even as she was torn to shreds, “that you can never let go of no matter how great a contradiction they bring. That is what we call love. Although you might not yet understand that, brother.”
“I don’t need that.”
Kyousuke clenched his teeth and rejected it in the Queen’s hands.
He chose what was right over love.
…More and more people would die.
He knew that. The deaths of so many influential and powerful people would influence both the hidden world of the Summoning Ceremony and the ignorant outside world and that would cause even more people to suffer.
He could not stop any of it.
He could not prevent the changing of the age.
He would save as many as he could. He was one of the people who had caused that age, so he could not ignore the voices of the people struggling, suffering, being tossed about, and asking for help from the bottom of their heart.
He wanted to be someone like that.
He would become that here.
He would become the strongest.
He would become the strongest human who would not let any Regulation-class, Divine-class, Unexplored-class, the Three beyond them, or even the White Queen at the peak of the peak do as they pleased.
“I don’t need that! I’ll eliminate it here before that happens!! I’ll throw out all of my weakness to settle things with you!!”
And Shiroyama Kyousuke completed himself.
He became a true precision guided missile that had completely cast out one half of his love and hatred for a certain girl.
“I won’t…forgive you.”
The last strand of consciousness was snapping in the Queen’s hands.
“I will never…forgive you…Queen…”
He had never spoken in this tone before and his logic was unreadable.
This boy should have been the closest to her, but he felt the farthest away.
The peak of the peak looked down at the unconscious boy with an unbelievable expression.
Her face was crumpled up.
“I am the peak of the Unexplored-class beyond the gods, so there is nothing I cannot do. Eventually, the day will surely come. I swear to you we will hold each other’s hands again.”
And she could not continue like this forever.
The White Queen returned to her normal size. She was only human-sized, but the power inside her was not affected. And she laid Kyousuke’s battered and broken body on the ground.
She looked around.
She was surrounded on all sides by a group of Unexplored-classes. There were hundreds if not thousands of them. Government, Illegal, and Freedom were working together to force the White Queen back with the violence of numbers and send her back to the other world. It was the first and last counterattack.
It was all about timing.
If she was taken out now, Kyousuke’s unconscious form would be caught in it.
Unlike the peak of the Unexplored-class, that small boy would be crushed and killed even if none of the attacks directly hit him. He was not using the Blood-Sign method of the Summoning Ceremony, so she could not share her power with him in the form of a protective circle.
The boy would die.
He would simply die.
The White Queen reignited once more.
She chose love over what was right and chose to accept all this hatred for the boy she loved.
And in doing so, she would protect him.
She would protect him to the end.
She would protect the one precious person she had found in this world.
She would protect the person who briefly allowed her to forget the extreme madness inside her.
“My name is Mary Ann. I am my brother’s sword and shield and I have been promised the love of the one who named me. So I will utterly destroy all who would harm him!!”
A war came to an entirely meaningless end.
A Happy Memory from an Unknown Point on the Timeline 4
“Eh heh heh. We’ll be together forever, brother!”
“Hm? Why even bother mentioning something so obvious???”
- Shigara Masami was actually the truly powerful who earned every Award from all three major powers. But she still did not earn Loved by the White or White Slayer. That means the White Queen has her own unique Awards that are not part of the three major powers.
- The Hatter decided to become the strongest when he could not bear seeing the vessels worn down after being used over and over. But when the Mock Battlefield stopped being used, the vessels lost their place and slowly broke.
- To protect Kyousuke, Biondetta accepted the Queen’s hatred and underwent a transformation.
- Claude risked his life to save young Kyousuke. He had no reason. Most likely, it was the same as when he had once saved Azalea’s life.
- Kyousuke held both love and hatred for the White Queen, but in order to eventually settle things with her, he threw out that weakness.
- Summoner Shiroyama Kyousuke’s speech and behavior patterns were determined at that time.
- At the very, very end, Kyousuke wanted to save at least one person. But that very action gave the final push to the White Queen’s back.
- At the end of the Secret War, the White Queen continued to take every last attack to protect a single person and she named herself as Mary Ann. Then which White Queen was it that survived and continues to oppose Kyousuke?
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